MBBS (Medicine) - University of Sydney, Australia; 1993.
Ph.D. - University of Queensland, Australia; 2005
Dr. Turtle is currently an Attending Physician on the Fred Hutch Bone Marrow Transplant Program and the Immunotherapy Service at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), a cancer treatment center that unites doctors from Fred Hutch, University of Washington Medicine and Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Dr. Turtle’s research focus is to develop therapies in which immune T cells are redirected to be able to kill cancer cells. He also studies approaches to boost recovery of the immune system and the ability of T cells to fight cancer after hematopoietic stem cell transplantations (HCT) and chemotherapy.
Dr. Turtle’s Fred Hutch laboratory is focused on understanding the characteristics of distinct subsets of human T cells, including their different roles in immunotherapy and in immune reconstitution after HCT. Findings have potential utility in developing safer and more effective strategies for HCT as well as for tumor-specific immunotherapies.
The laboratory is developing approaches to genetically engineer T cells to allow them to target components of the cancer cells found in hematologic malignancies. This is mainly accomplished by modifying the T cells so they express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR), which binds to a specific antigen on cancer cells and gives the T cells a signal to kill the targeted cancer cells.
Dr. Turtle designs and oversees clinical trials of CAR-modified T cell therapies for patients with hematologic malignancies. Through detailed analysis of patients he has treated on these clinical trials, his laboratory is learning about the mechanisms by which the immune system controls cancer and developing rational approaches to improve T cell immunotherapy.
Dr. Turtle is an investigator on an ongoing Phase I/II study of immunotherapy for patients with advanced CD19+ chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. This study is using defined subsets of a patient’s own (autologous) T cells engineered to express a CD19-specific CAR, which programs them to kill the malignant cells. Exciting results from this study led to the development of two new trials of CD19-directed CAR-T cell therapy on which Dr. Turtle is the Principal Investigator:
In development is an additional CAR-T cell trial designed to target acute myeloid leukemia.